Song of the Day: Crime in Music (Day One). “It’s All Over the Front Page, You’re Giving Me Road Rage”.

On a dark country lane on the 1st December 1996, Tracie Andrews, a barmaid and aspiring model, stabbed her fiancé, Lee Harvey, over 42 times with a pen knife after they had stopped his Ford Escort XR3i after an argument.  Two days later, Andrews claimed that Harvey had been killed in a road rage attack, saying that a “fat man with staring eyes” had stabbed him 30 times.  Later that month, however, Andrews was charged with Harvey’s murder.

The couple’s relationship had been tempestuous from the very beginning.  Andrews had met Harvey at a nightclub in Birmingham and the pair quickly became an item.  However, it quickly became apparent that Andrews had a temper and easily became jealous if any other woman came close to Harvey.  Both Harvey and Andrews had a child each from previous relationships and both parties were particularly jealous of the others’ ex-partners.   Many commented that Harvey and Andrews’ feelings towards each other verged on obsession and there was an apparent lack of trust between the pair.

On several occasions the relationship became violent with the police often being called to the couple’s home.  People commented about the acts of domestic violence after Harvey’s murder, saying that both were as bad as each other, Andrews continuously having bruising on her arms and Harvey once having scratches all over his body and a bite mark on his neck which looked as though he had been bitten by a dog.  There were also very public incidents of violence, including one in Bakers Nightclub in Birmingham in October 1996 when Andrews had confronted Harvey and assaulted him because he had gone to the club when she felt that Bakers was her night out and not hers.  After Andrews spotted Harvey chatting to another woman at the bar, she bit him and was dragged out of the club by security.

It also became apparent that Andrews was a chronic liar.  In the August before Harvey’s murder, Andrews had announced that she was pregnant, much to the horror of people who had witnessed the violence in the relationship.  Despite their misgivings, the families and friends of the couple were upset when Andrews told them that she had had a miscarriage after falling whilst shopping.  It soon transpired that Andrews had in fact had an abortion, feeling that having a baby would ruin her life.  Once again, the police were called to the couples’ residence after violence had ensued following Andrews’ revelation during an argument.

The explosive relationship between the couple was a recipe for disaster, a disaster which occurred on that fateful night of the 1st December 1996.  On their way back to the couple’s home from the Malbrook Pub, Bromsgrove, where their last argument had started, the couple stopped on Cooper’s Hill.  In Andrew’s initial statement to the police, she told of how a car had been following them, speeding to overtake them and beeping his horn.  She stated that Harvey had stopped the car after having enough of the aggressiveness of the driver following them.  She continued to tell of how the driver of the other car had got out, screamed abuse at Harvey such as “Paki bastard” and had stabbed him repeatedly.  At first, nothing about Andrews’ story of how the incident happened made the police suspicious; such was Andrews’ highly manipulative nature.  Andrews’ story was made even more plausible by the fact that Andrews herself had sustained various injuries, claiming that Harvey’s assailant had also attacked her.  The media quickly began to state that the murder had been a result of road rage.

On the 3rd December, Andrews appeared in person, together with Harvey’s family and holding the hand of Harvey’s mother to appeal for witnesses.  Those present noted that for somebody who was supposedly still in shock and upset, Andrews had a lot to say for herself whilst others noted that certain parts of her story did not correspond with what she had initially told the police.  Here started the police’s suspicions.

On the 4th December, Andrews told her family that she was going back home for a sleep.  Her family became worried and went to Andrews’ home to check on her.  On entering Andrews’ home, her mother picked up her handbag and in it, found a note addressed to Andrews’ daughter reading, “I’m so sorry, I can’t be here no more, I want to be with Lee”.  Her family entered Andrews’ bedroom to find that she had taken an overdose.  Andrews reportedly died twice whilst on the way to the hospital.

A few days later, the police finally obtained the evidence that would change the investigation.  Simon Baker, who was travelling down towards Cooper’s Hill from the opposite direction with girlfriend Elaine Caruthers, passed Harvey’s Ford Escort XR3i but stated that there was no vehicle following them.   The witnesses stated that the couple were having such a disagreement that Harvey had overshot his intended junction, reversed the car and began to travel down Cooper’s Hill.  On the 7th December, the police arrested Andrews on suspicion of murder.  On the 19th December, after being given a medical all clear, Andrews was questioned about the discrepancies in her story and Simon Baker’s witness report.  Andrews flatly denied having killed Harvey, calling in a solicitor who took the unusual move of lifting any reporting restrictions on the ensuing murder enquiry.  At a defence press conference, an E-fit of the person whom Andrews claimed to have killed Harvey, the “fat man with staring eyes”, was issued.

In the ensuing court case, investigators noted that her clothes were covered in Harvey’s blood in a manner that would suggest Andrews was the murderer.  Additionally, a black hat was found discarded at the murder scene.  The hat was covered in cat hairs from Andrews’ pet.  Andrews admitted that the hat had been in her possession and that she had thrown it by the side of the road.  Forensic evidence eventually showed that the murder weapon, a pen knife which Harvey had brought back from a holiday in Spain, had been concealed in Andrews’ snakeskin boot, had been on her person when she was taken to hospital after the murder, and flushed away down a hospital lavatory.  It was also found that Andrews had waited a full seven minutes before shouting for help.

Andrews was convicted at Birmingham Crown Court on 29th July 1997, and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that she serve at least 14 years.  Andrews appealed against the sentence, claiming that she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice because of the damaging publicity surrounding her case.  In October 1998, her appeal was denied.  In April 1999, Andrews admitted that she did stab Harvey to death, whilst maintaining that she acted in self-defence.

Two years after the much publicised murder of Lee Harvey, Catatonia featured the song Road Rage on their second album International Velvet.   The song was released as the album’s third single, reaching number 5 in the UK singles chart.  Road Rage was inspired by the murder and the media coverage that it gained in the aftermath.  This was something that did not escape the notice of Maureen Harvey, Lee Harvey’s mother, who said of the song in an interview with the Sunday Mercury on April 5th, 1998:

“It is tasteless and disgusting that people are trying to make money from such a tragedy.  My son did not die in a road rage attack; he was killed by Tracie Andrews.  We simply do not need songs like this”.

In her 1998 book, Pure Evil:  How Tracie Andrews Murdered My Son, Decieved the Nation and Sentenced Me to a life of Pain and Misery, Maureen Harvey talked about the song further, saying:

“ … at least the group’s singer Cerys Matthews had the decency to return my call and explain that she hadn’t intended to cause any offence.  She tried to convince me that the song showed how Tracie had gone crazy and that it didn’t actually do her any favours”.

In relation to the case of Tracie Andrews, Road Rage includes the chorus:  “You could be taking it easy on yourself, You should be making it easy on yourself, ‘cause you and I know, It’s all over the front page, You give me road rage, Racing through the best days, It’s up to you boy you’re driving me crazy, Thinking you may be losing your mind” and additionally features lines such as “If all you’ve got to prove today is your innocence, Calm down, you’re as guilty as can be”.  In defence of the song, Cerys Matthews told the Birmingham Post on 6th April, 1998:

“The title, Road Rage, was inspired by the newspaper reports of the case of Tracie Andrews.  But it is really about how fast technology is moving”.